French architect Nouvel unveils red pavilion in London

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The Independent Online

Renowned French architect Jean Nouvel unveiled his first completed work in Britain on Tuesday, a huge pavilion in a "symphony of reds" built for the Serpentine Gallery of modern art in London's Hyde Park.

The temporary structure, which will operate as a public space, a cafe and an auditorium, is made up of bold geometric forms in glass, polycarbonate and fabric - including a sloped free-standing wall that stands 12 metres tall.

Nouvel said he liked the surprise of finding the bright red pavilion - which echoes the red of England's iconic phone booths, letter boxes and London buses - among the green grass and trees of the royal park.

"The red for me was the idea of something very strong, energetic and optimistic and also complementary because the green, you can see that around," he said at the launch of the pavilion, which opens to the public on Saturday.

He imagined people spotting the building "through the trees and you think what is this, it's a circus?".

The colours of the pavilion, which includes retractable awnings to create a versatile system of inside and outside spaces, change throughout the day and throughout the seasons, offering a "symphony of reds", Nouvel told AFP.

It is intended to "capture different sensations, in particular those associated with the sun and the summer. And I wanted to catch the sun, which is why I have also named this the 'pavilion of the red sun'," he said.

Nouvel's creation is the tenth in an annual series at the Serpentine, which this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

It is a unique idea - the commissioned architect has just six months from their invitation to create a pavilion to its completion, and then the building itself is only temporary. Nouvel's pavilion will close on October 17.

The French architect has designed more than 200 buildings worldwide, including the Institut du monde arabe in Paris and the Agbar tower in Barcelona, and in 2008 won the Pritzker prize, the top award in the industry.

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